ALTERNATIVE USE OF PINE BARK MEDIA FOR HYDROPONIC PRODUCTION OF 'GALIA' MUSKMELON RESULTS IN PROFITABLE RETURNS
Green-fleshed Galia muskmelons (Cucumis melo L.) have been traditionally open-field cultivated in Mediterranean climates, but greater yields and higher quality can be achieved through protected cultivation. In Florida (USA), pine bark is a by-product of the lumber and paper industries and may be suitable for containerized soilless culture vegetable production systems that currently use perlite. In springs 2001 and 2002, Gal-52 plants were grown in a passively-ventilated plastic covered greenhouse using polyethylene re-sleeving bags or 11.4 L nursery pots filled with coarse perlite, medium perlite or pine bark. Data were collected and compared for effects of media-type on fruit yield and fruit quality. Type of soilless media or container did not affect fruit yield or quality in either season. Plants produced on average 6 fruits per plant or 32.5 kg/m2. Average soluble solids were 10.5 °Brix. A sensitivity analysis was performed using five years of market data on Galia muskmelons sold at the New York terminal market to show potential losses and profits using bags or pots filled with either perlite or pine bark. An economic analysis determined that pine bark was nearly one-eighth the cost of perlite and could be reused for several consecutive crops leading to reduced costs of production and greater profits.
L. Shaw, N., J. Cantliffe, D., C. Rodriguez, J. and Karchi, Z. (2007). ALTERNATIVE USE OF PINE BARK MEDIA FOR HYDROPONIC PRODUCTION OF 'GALIA' MUSKMELON RESULTS IN PROFITABLE RETURNS. Acta Hortic. 731, 259-266
soilless media, greenhouse, protected agriculture, economics